The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap Review
The Minish Cap executes the classic overhead Zelda formula with great precision and delightful whimsy.
If The Minish Cap consisted only of the six primary dungeons, it would be one short Zelda indeed. Thankfully, there's a ton of stuff to do in between the dungeons, some of it required and some of it optional. You'll occasionally go on smaller quests to progress the main storyline, such as returning a number of lost library books in order to speak to a minish elder who's taken up residence on a library shelf, or visiting a witch in the swamp so you can gain some much-needed new shoes. Aside from these story-related activities, you could easily spend a dozen hours (on top of the dozen you spend on the main quest) simply exploring the world, looking for extra heart containers and discovering other Zelda-style secrets. The Minish Cap's Hyrule Town is perhaps the most bustling burg yet in a Zelda game, with a ton of houses you can enter and plenty of people to talk to, buy things from, and fuse kinstones with.
Wait, kinstones? These are small colored medallions, the halves of which you'll uncover in treasure chests, under rocks, and in the possession of enemies all over the world. Most of the folks of Hyrule have a kinstone half of their own, and you can approach them to fuse the appropriate half, if you have it, with theirs to cause some effect somewhere in the world map. Some kinstone fusions will spawn treasure chests or open paths to new areas, where you can acquire rupees, heart containers, and so on, while others will have profound effects on other characters that may (in the rare instance) allow you to gain a useful new item. Kinstone fusion is almost entirely optional, but it certainly allows you to become stronger, find more items, and generally experience a lot more of the game than you would if you just rushed from one dungeon to the next. If anything, the game definitely encourages exploration.
The Minish Cap's presentation is top-notch, and it's heartwarming to see 2D games still being produced with this degree of care and attention to detail. Rather than reusing graphical elements from A Link to the Past, Flagship has created this game's graphics from the ground up and made them consistent with the whimsical, cartoonlike aesthetic of The Wind Waker, which is embodied especially in Link himself. The artists had a field day with the minuscule Link idea--the areas you enter while shrunk down are filled with bigger-than-life enemies, set pieces, and background elements, creating memorable moments in which you climb atop a desk and tiptoe past a giant slumbering with his head on the table, or walk through the rafters of a house, seeing the secret places the minish have made their homes in the world of the big people. Visually, this is easily identifiable as a Zelda game, but it's great that the artists have exploited the tiny-Link-in-a-big-world conceit to its fullest.
If you're a fan of traditional Zelda games, you'll find the game's audio just as uplifting as its visuals, with a great mixture of classic music that draws from Zelda games all the way back to the NES original (though many of these have slightly new arrangements) and new songs that fit in perfectly with the Zelda milieu. The sound effects are nicely implemented too, from Link's powerful yell when he swings his sword to the vocal effects of other characters and so on. You wouldn't expect anything less than greatness from a Zelda game's presentation, and it's nice to see that The Minish Cap delivers.
With Zelda games on the big consoles having long ago transitioned to 3D, and with Nintendo's new focus on its 3D-capable DS in the handheld market, it's not too far-fetched to imagine that The Minish Cap will be the last totally original 2D Zelda game. The game easily lives up to its predecessors, with enough questing and variety to keep you entertained for the duration of its storyline and beyond. Whether or not this game represents the end of an era for this hallowed franchise, it's a superb game in its own right that any fan of Zelda, and indeed any Game Boy Advance-owning fan of adventure games, shouldn't be without.
- Player Reviews: 382
- Game Universe:
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (GBA, SNES),
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, GC),
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC, WII),
- The Legend of Zelda (NES),
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES, FDS, GBA),
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (WII),
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS),
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS),
- Link's Crossbow Training (WII),
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)
- Number of Players: